Leaving Frankfurt to TEL AVIV!!!
Our 5 hour flight to Israel went well, we all took more naps and the kids loved getting more airplane food. We got picked up at the airport and made our way to our apartment with our sponsors waiting for us. The Embassy has been extremely gracious to us, they have set us up with sponsors (a family who lives in our area) and set us up with a “welcome kit” with all the needs of living before our stuff arrives. We were only allowed to ship 1,000 lbs by air and 4,000 lbs by boat. So the Embassy also supplies all of our LARGE furniture, which isn’t quite my style, but I am able to go to Ikea and spice it up a bit, or at least trying. We got meals provided by some Embassy families a few nights the first week. That really helped! We also got our car about a week after we arrived, it’s a Mazda 3 (Israeli style, a few dents and scratches, but for $2,000 we didn’t expect much and it’s in really good shape!) Our apartment is beautiful with plenty of space and storage, and a Mediterranean Sea view! (For all my friends and family reading this, I will post pictures of our place on FB, I do not want pics of our place being out there for the whole world. I take my FB very serious when it comes to safety as well) We are very thankful for the storage and space, as apartment living in DC really go to us. And we are reminded by lots of Israelis, that storage and space is very hard to come by. We have done LOTS of walking and exploring our neighborhood, which you can throw a rock in any direction and find a park, so the kids are thrilled about that. Parks, the beach, grocery stores, lots of shops, restaurants, and bike paths (although the teens riding at a high speed on their electric bikes are quite terrifying) are dozens within a short walk. Also, kids here are free to do whatever they want by themselves, even as young as Kindergarteners. So this has been a good growing lesson for Devin. He has gotten to head out by himself a few times, Joycelyn, not so much. That girl NEVER looks for cars, here in Israel the parents teach their kids at a very young age to ALWAYS look and then cross (Israel drivers may be quick to honk and cut you off, but they really obey their lights and crosswalks, everywhere!) So, Joycelyn won’t be going out on her own much, okay…NEVER. Tel Aviv is a very safe place, this city is always so alive and people don’t every stay home! After work the markets are packed, streets are packed, beaches and running trails are packed, and parks are FULL of kids and families…everywhere, ALL the time!! It is kind of a wonderful thing, in America everyone goes home around 7ish to get their families washed up and put to bed…NOT here!! Crime is very low, in fact, the only crime that has a problem here is bike theft. People will steal bikes in broad daylight, especially those very pricey motorized ones! Not too worried about our Walmart bikes, in fact, our bike locks have probably cost more than the bikes themselves!
We have met with our new friends who we met back in January, who have jumped right in as an Aunt and Uncle position. They also have introduced us to some a new family with kids the same age as Devin and Joycelyn. We are trying to make those connections, it is hard at times, but we know that doors like this will open for us when its time. We have also met a family who were kind of passed onto us by the past 2 Tel Aviv families. Wonderful people as well, and we look forward to making many memories with all of our new friends!
David is completely free until August when Ulpan (language school) starts then college courses in October. Which we have never had him home so much in our lives!! He does LOTS of studying but he is home!! It’s been wonderful, compared to all those dozens of deployments we have been through in the last 11 years. Since the kids don’t start school until August as well, it has allowed us to take a nice 4 day trip up to the north. I will post about that in another post.
I can’t think of any other way to describe some stuff, so I am going to just make it into a bullet format with subcategories. This should be fun J
Things we have learned about moving overseas. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful that we have most of the stuff we need to live off of, it’s just the feeling of “home” I truly miss
- When you get to ship 2 separate shipments pack MORE of what you will really miss for several months. Like: clothes hampers, ALL my kitchen stuff, my plates, my knives (oh, I miss my knives) BIG coffee cups (the embassy supplies very tiny, almost 2 sip coffee cups) my crockpot (BAD!! It seems I have been to the grocery store at least once a day since we have arrived and I still can’t come up with a recipe to cook dinner, other than frozen pizza, spaghetti, frozen schnitzel. I just seems I have forgotten and I am SO lost in the grocery store with Israeli products, and just because I can read the Hebrew word, doesn’t mean I know what it says!) my OWN bedding, MORE kids’ toys (we failed at that one) my Swiffer mop,
Things that we have learned so far in Israel
- People everywhere ALL of the time!
- Don’t go to the grocery store in a bad mood, I swear I have a small target on my back some days that says “Yes, I am an American, no, I do not know enough Hebrew, but I know you can speak English, sure, cut me off in line and give me stink eye throughout the store”
- When you get to know a local, they are truly the nicest people you will ever meet!
- When you go to a park expect to see children peeing in the bushes, sometimes near a trash can, sometimes just where ever they want. Even saw a kid pooping with the mom pointing to the spot he should use, and no it wasn’t in a “private” spot
- Kids under the age of 5 can swim in the Sea naked!
- Nobody likes to pick up their dog poop on the sidewalk, I have no idea why, there are trash cans EVERYWHERE that they could throw it into. It makes it for a tricky walk to the parks, especially when devin has the ball at his feet dribbling.
- Bottled water EVERYWHERE!!! I hate it!! Sometime places refuse to give us tap water to drink with our meals. The tap water is fine to drink, as we have been drinking it for a month straight. Downfall is no fluoride in the water here. I JUST wish everyone would buy themselves a reusable bottle.
- I need to read EVERY appliance before I plug into an adapter, I thought the alarm clock and Joycleyn’s sound machine would be ok to just plug into an adapter, NOPE…fried them both
- Fruit and Veggies are SO cheap!! It’s the cheapest thing here, very fresh too. The cheapest place to get them is at the Shuk (HaCarmel Market in downtown Tel Aviv) but I will NEVER ever ever, go again on a Friday (that is a day off for Israelis and it’s the day before Shabbat) I also will never go to the regular grocery store on a Friday! SO, ALWAYS be prepared to have everything you need until Sunday (Saturday/Shabbat, most places are closed)
- The other cheapest thing here is cell phone coverage, the only downfall is that you have to buy your phone outright. No contracts, we literally pay $30 US dollars for both of our phones (10 GB and Stateside calling!) BUT when huge lesson learned. (well, David said we would have to pay to have them unlocked online or something, but I was very antsy to get a phone up and going) When Verizon says your phone is “unlocked” for international, it is a LIE, all companies lie about this. You must buy the unlock code to officially unlock it (although we learned this AFTER we sold both of our brand new phones and had to buy iPhone on Amazon)
- David says about his Hebrew skills (although I beg to differ) Your Hebrew language skills are never as good as you wish they would be, but never as bad as you might think.
- Cats, CATS, CATS!! Stray cats everywhere, they are fed and given water all throughout the city. We have now had to have “that talk” with Devin about the boy cat going around and making kitties with the moms all throughout town.
- Always pay attention to those stop lights. They go from Green, to 3 flashes of green, to yellow then red. Then when it is your turn to go on green the red light turns to yellow then green. IF your foot is NOT on that gas pedal by the time it goes from yellow to green you will get honked at, no matter what! It’s actually quite comical. They will honk even if you are the 5th car and can’t go.
- No such thing as American coffee. Don’t go to a place and order coffee, it is not good, they drink either instant, which is very fine powdered coffee (and actually we have grown to kinda like) or they drink espressos or cappuccinos (and not the ones you get in America from a gas station with a pound of powder, it is pretty much an espresso with steamed milk. Add one pack of sugar and I am good to go!) We are missing our regular coffee some days, so we use our French press and my girlfriend Jill keeps me pretty stocked up on coffee from Hawaii :)
Sydney and Matan took us to Jaffa to explore the city one Saturday. It was a beautiful day and to look around at this ancient city and walk around and get to know new friends is really surreal. They took us on a boat ride out on the Med Sea so we could get a good look at the whole city and Jaffa. The kids loved looking over the boat at some really big moon jelly fish.
So we fill our days with trips to the beach and to the Embassy pool. Or just hopping in the car and exploring the country in just a little drive. So many amazing historical sites to see. No wonder EVERYONE wants to live here or vacation here, Israel is the size of New Jersey and you can drive from the most northern point to the most southern point in 5 hours and go from Mountains, to Med Sea, to the Dead Sea, to the Red Sea, to the dessert all in ONE country!!
We took a small day trip one Saturday to Caesarea, which happens to be only about a 45 min drive from Tel Aviv. We got a National Park pass so we an explore any of the National Parks throughout Israel (which is like 150 parks!!)
Anyways, David and I explored this beautiful 25th BC port built when Herod the Great ruled, when we came in January. So we planned to explore AND snorkel. The sea was very rough that day, so we knew that snorkeling was going to be out of the question so when we got the ancient pool where King Herod would have fresh water pumped into his pool, we decided to climb down and explore closer. Pictures explains what happened next…
Needless to say, we didn’t go snorkeling. We heading home and got her cleaned up and for the next 8 days she did NOTHING, no park, no beach, no pool. It healed without stiches (although it think it could have been glued to help heal faster) She healed just fine and it is now a good story to tell! :)
So right now as I type this we are in a waiting period to get the rest of our shipment, really hoping this will happen next week!!
We are looking forward to our next trip.
I hope this blog can help keep our friends and family informed of our lives and travels, I also hope and pray it will open your eyes to what an amazing country Israel is and how misconstrued it is.